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N4T Investigators: Bicyclist sues Sun Tran after collision

TUCSON – Sun Tran is facing a lawsuit after a bus hit a bicyclist at a unique intersection.

Mylan “Skip” Marble was riding eastbound on Broadway Boulevard approaching Fifth Avenue on October 3, 2018. To continue straight, he had to cross the streetcar tracks on his right. The streetcar tracks are also in a transit lane where buses travel.

“I’m so focused on crossing the tracks at a safe angle that the last thing I was even concerned about was a car, or in this case a bus, not yielding the right of way,” Marble said.

He said the large vehicle was surprisingly quiet.

“The engine is at the back of the bus about 40 feet away,” Marble said. “It was total silence, so when I started my turn there was no indication at all there was a vehicle.”

For cars, the lane is a right-turn lane. Buses can go straight, with bicycles potentially crossing their path from left to right.

Marble’s attorney, Joe Watkins, said the intersection should have a better design, but filing a lawsuit against the city is extremely difficult.

“I think the city probably is at fault for the design,” Watkins said, “but they didn’t run Mr. Marble over. The bus driver ran Mr. Marble over.”

“It’s just a lose-lose situation for a cyclist to be put in this position,” Marble said.

Watkins said, even if Marble did not cross the tracks, the bus did not have enough space to pass. Watkins said he just deposed the driver and his trainer under oath. He said they admitted having no training on that intersection and were not aware of the space required to pass a bike.

“Because it’s unique, you would expect some kind of special training,” Watkins said. “Both the driver and the trainer told us they never had any training with respect to this intersection, nor had they with respect to the statutes that apply to overtaking cyclists.”

Sun Tran did not respond to a question about driver training or comment on the case because of the lawsuit.

Even though the city is not being sued, the city also chose not to comment on the intersection’s design because of the lawsuit.

Marble said he plans to ride his bike again and wants to ride through that intersection again.

Sam Salzwedel

Sam Salzwedel is an investigative reporter at News 4 Tucson – KVOA.

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